Bishop Michael Ipgrave, the Bishop of Lichfield, affirmed that he is “proud to be part of Diocese that takes Dementia-Friendly Church seriously”, when he spoke at our Dementia-Friendly Churches Zoom Training Day in October 2020. You can listen to Bishop Michael’s words in this 10-minute video, as he highlights three important themes::
- Listening to individual stories, creating a culture where people feel confident to tell their stories and share their experiences and a culture which enables people to feel comfortable in listening to those stories. Bishop Michael encourages us to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches through each person experiencing dementia and through those who care for them.
- Participating, in a way which doesn’t expect everyone to do the same thing in the same way – without worrying about getting things right or wrong! Bishop Michael speaks of faith being more profoudly plugged in to who we are and who God us: it’s about being held in God’s love and remembered by Him.
- Learning from one another and from people with dementia, allowing space for heart-level learning, reminding us that all of us are dependent on God. Bishop Michael spoke of his precedecessor Bishop Keith (Bishop of Lichfield from 1984-2003) and the Bible that he had used daily in his last years, when he lived with dementia: in the well-thumbed book of Psalms, including the passages that wrestle with God, God’s presence and love shines through, even in times of tribulation.
Bishop Michael shared the words of a letter to the church from Christine Bryden, an Australian catholic who lives with dementia: “I may not be able to take an active part in worship, but I can receive the gifts of love and grace. This is the good news of the Gospel for those living with dementia: we are equal before God in receiving divine love and grace.”
Bishop Michael recognises that we are working to make that simple but important truth a reality through dementia-friendly church. It is one of the most important things that we do as a Diocese to show that we are a church that reflects the richness and variety of our communities, works together for the common good and is committed to learning and listening from one another.
Endorsing the commitment of churches across the Diocese to take action on dementia, Bishop Michael is personally going to sign all Dementia-Friendly Churches Certificates issued to churches in our Diocese from now on.
You may be interested to see the video of the 45-minute Opening Session from the October 2020 Dementia-Friendly Churches Training Day, to listen to Clive and Barbara Rogers’ experience of dementia, to hear headlines of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people with dementia and to see an overview of our dementia-friendly churches work across the Diocese of Lichfield.
If you’d like to become more involved in our dementia-friendly churches network across the Diocese of Lichfield, please get in touch with Sarah Thorpe, Dementia-Friendly Church Enabler, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0798 224 8949.